benefits of star anise

Benefits of Star Anise

1. Star Anise
Star anise is the star shaped fruit of an evergreen plant known scientifically as Illicium verum. Originating in southern China star anise has a licorice or anise like flavor although it is not related to the true anise plants native to the Mediterranean basin and Middle East. Traditionally used as a spice and also as a healing herb star anise appears to have medicinal properties that endow it with significant health benefits.
2. Rich in Shikimic Acid
Star anise is the primary source of shikimic acid a plant based compound that is the precursor to oseltamivir an antiviral medication that is marketed as Tamiflu according to an article in a 2011 issue of Alternative Medicine Studies. Although shikimic acid also occurs naturally in ginkgo and sweetgum fruit star anise has far greater concentrations. Italian researchers tested shikimic acid alone and in combination with quercetin an antioxidant rich plant based nutrient to see if they could bolster immune function to help fight off flu or other viral infections. Although shikimic acid on its own had little or no effect on immune function its combination with quercetin even at low doses appeared to help ramp up immune function to better resist viral infection. Researchers published their findings in the April 2008 issue of ?Journal of Medical Virology.
3. Antifungal Properties
When your body?s delicate balance of microbes is disturbed or your immune system is somehow weakened this yeast can grow unhindered and lead to serious infection known as candidiasis. South Korean researchers found that extracts and essential oils of star anise exhibited strong antifungal properties when tested against Candida albicans.
4. Antibacterial Properties
The upsurge in bacterial infections that exhibit resistance to existing antibiotics has intensified the search for new agents that may prove more effective against these resistant strains of bacteria. Researchers in Taiwan tested four new antimicrobial compounds from star anise and found that they were effective against 67 strains of drug resistant bacteria.
5. Antioxidant Properties
Antioxidants target free radicals atoms or molecules with unpaired electrons that can cause disease and cellular damage. Free radicals can damage cellular DNA and initiate carcinogenesis the beginnings of cancer. You can?t really avoid free radicals which are byproducts of your body?s metabolic processes but you can neutralize them by eating a diet rich in antioxidants. Indian researchers conducted an animal study to determine whether star anise?s antioxidant properties helped protect lab rats from artificially induced liver cancer.
6. Selection and storage
Dry and ground anise in its powder form is readily available in the spice market year around. Choose anise seeds from organic herb stores for authenticity. Buy them in small quantities that would last for 3 4 months since the seeds tend to lose their flavor because of evaporation of essential oils. Fresh seeds should feature brilliant olive green to grey brown color and give rich aroma when squeezed between index and thumb fingers. Avoid seeds that have broken tips or those from old stocks as they indicate less in essential oils.
7. Medicinal use
Anise seed as well its oil?have found application in many traditional medicines for their distinctive health promoting and disease preventing roles.Anise seed as well its oil have found application in many traditional medicines for their distinctive health promoting and disease preventing roles.
8. Culinary uses
Anise seeds oil as well as fresh young leaves are used in cooking. The flavor is heightened by dry frying the seeds. Anise is used in savory and sweet dishes to which it imparts sweet aromatic flavor to variety of cuisines. The whole seeds and often times freshly grounded powder added to the recipes at the last moment to limit the evaporation of essential volatile oils in them.
9. Eight segments
The star anise is botanically known as Illicium Verum. It is dark brown in colour with eight segments. It has a sweetish licorice taste. Besides its culinary uses star anise also has health benefits.
10. Anti viral
Star anise is effective against several types of viruses including the herpes virus say researcher Paul Schnitzler and his colleagues from the University of Heidelburg Germany. Star anise works by preventing further viral replication. Shikimic acid is the ingredient extracted from Chinese star anise to make the drug Tamiflu. Tamiflu or Oseltamivir treats the influenza virus but does not work as a vaccination. It fights the virus once contracted.